Fresh from its passage through Earth's shadow (i.e. last week's total lunar eclipse), the Moon will have made its way halfway around its orbit by the 23rd, and the result will be another eclipse. This time the Moon will move between Earth and Sun, and its shadow on the Earth will produce a partial solar eclipse for us. While not as spectacular as a total solar eclipse, a partial eclipse is rare and interesting enough to get out to see.
This solar eclipse will begin late in the day in Madison, at 4:32 p.m. CDT. Mid-eclipse occurs at 5:40 p.m., so the event will only be a little more than half complete by the time the Sun sets at 6:01 p.m. (Note that the sunset time is for an ideal horizon. It will disappear earlier where the horizon is obstructed by hills, for example.)
Viewing a solar eclipse requires some special precautions and preparations to avoid any damage to your eyes. Specifically designed "eclipse glasses" are the easiest method. These allow you to look directly at the Sun without harm to your eyes. Do not use any substitute that is not specifically designed for solar viewing, otherwise serious damage to the eye can result. You do not need a telescope to observe the eclipse, and you should not attempt to point a telescope or binoculars at the Sun unless there is a proper solar filter in place over the aperture of the instrument, and you know what you are doing.
A good alternative to a solar filter is a pinhole viewer. Use a straight pin to punch a small hole in a piece of aluminum foil, for example. Hold a white index card or other white surface a few inches behind the pinhole, and let sunlight pass through the hole and reach the card. You will see a small image of the Sun formed by the pinhole. By looking at that image you can follow the progress of the eclipse.
There will be a public eclipse party at Tenney Park on the east side of Lake Mendota from 4:30 p.m. until sunset on 23 Oct. It will be canceled if the sky is too cloudy.
4:15 Partial eclipse begins (All times CDT on 8 Oct 2014)
5:24 Total eclipse begins
6:25 Total eclipse ends
6:33 Civil twilight begins
7:35 Partial eclipse ends